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Ann Maxwell has written over 60 books in multiple genres; as Elizabeth Lowell (Die in Plain Sight), she creates dialogue with immediacy and emotional coloration that sets her apart from the romantic suspense pack. Her 10th outing as Lowell begins with the tidy murder of "The Senator," the ill and infirm patriarch of a prominent Taos, N.Mex., clan. Carly May, a genealogist/historical researcher, is commissioned to write a family history by a disgruntled family member who hopes she'll dig up dirt. As Carly's research starts in earnest, she meets, among the Senator's many legitimate and illegitimate children, Dan Duran, a former CIA-like operative who, she finds out (but the reader knows all along), is the Senator's illegitimate grandson. Carly gets dire threats, she and Dan get close, and more people die. By combining new techniques of DNA testing with old-fashioned research and detective work (lots of appealing New Mexican history comes into play), Carly and Dan finally discover the truth about the family. But readers will care less about that than about their many charming exchanges, which Lowell crafts with sophistication and a sense of play. Quality and quantity may not be mutually exclusive after all. (July 1)
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Carly May was adopted and has never found out anything about her own biological roots, yet tracing genealogical roots for other families is how she makes a living. She has been hired by Winifred Simmons y Castillo, aunt of the governor of New Mexico, to write a history of her family, but only of the female descendants. This is highly unusual; then, when Carly arrives in Taos, she finds that the governor's father has died, and no one is truly mourning him. The power dynamics within the family have changed, and only Winifred wants Carly there, as proven by the threats she receives. Dan Duran has returned to Taos after sustaining injuries while tangling with a drug cartel. He knows that searching through family secrets can be deadly and takes on the role of white knight toward Carly as they investigate an illustrious but suspect family. As always, Lowell delivers top-notch romantic suspense in her signature staccato style. Patty Engelmann
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